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Thread: Scottsdale police eye 2 cold cases from 1978

  1. #1

    Default Scottsdale police eye 2 cold cases from 1978

    After murder charges were announced on Monday in two of Scottsdale's decades-old cold cases, detectives said they now will focus on solving two unsolved murders from 1978 - a time detectives often refer to as "the year of the unsolved murder."
    Police: 2 charged in cold-case murders
    Jon Douglas Benson was indicted last week in the 1978 death of teenager Greg Holman. In a separate case, Steven Scoutten was indicted last week in the 1986 stabbing death of Dwayne Nutt.
    Those indictments marked the first time in 17 years that charges were filed in cold cases, said Detective Hugh Lockerby.
    The two unsolved 1978 cold cases that detectives will pursue involve the June 1978 death of Patty Kerger, 30, and the mysterious death of Ken Avvenire, 25, whose body was found in August of that year, two months after he died.
    The famous unsolved murder case of "Hogan's Heroes" television star Bob Crane, also killed in 1978, is not being pursued. The suspect, John Carpenter, is now dead, and he was acquitted of the crime in 1994. Police said they consider the case closed.
    Although no one has ever been charged in Kerger's or Avvenire's deaths, police have one lead suspect in each case and are reviewing more evidence through the department's crime lab and revisiting old documents, Lockerby said.
    "We just don't want to walk away from the Kerger case or put it aside," he said. "There's still some work to do on it, and that's what we're going to do. We have some evidence that needs to be reviewed."
    Kerger's body was found beaten and stabbed multiple times in a vacant lot on the southeast corner of 56th Street and Thomas Road (where a Walgreens drugstore is located) on June 21, 1978.
    Avvenire's badly beaten body was found Aug. 27 in Room 207 at the Sunburst Resort (now the Caleo Resort and Spa) at 4925 N. Scottsdale Road. His head was bashed in with a lamp, and he was stabbed 17 times with a ballpoint pen.
    Kerger's ex-husband, Jay Kerger, remains a suspect in her death, police said. During an interview with the Tribune in February 2007, Jay Kerger maintained his innocence.
    "We're working on tying up some loose ends," Lockerby said of the Kerger and Avvenire cases. "We're looking at old evidence through different procedures that weren't available to us in the '70s. We're working with our crime lab to see what the results will be."
    Lockerby also said detectives plan to make a trip to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility in about a month to question a suspect in Avvenire's death, Michael Ogden, who is serving life in prison for murdering a man in Harris County, Texas.

  2. #2
    bettybrown1623 Guest

    Default Re: Scottsdale police eye 2 cold cases from 1978

    Police: 2 charged in cold-case murders

    Mike Sakal, Tribune

    A 30-year-old murder case involving the buried remains of a Scottsdale teenager and the 22-year-old case of a man who was stabbed to death in a Scottsdale hotel room are getting new life due to fresh DNA evidence that has led to grand jury indictments.
    Cops seek clues in Scottsdale cold case death
    Detective works cold cases; DNA could tie men to 1978 slayings
    Turning up the heat on cold cases
    Jon Douglas Benson, the lone suspect in the 1978 death of 14-year-old Greg Holman, has been charged with murder. Benson, now 44, is in state prison in Florence on charges of luring a minor for sexual exploitation, and he is believed to be responsible for burying Holman in an underground fort in the backyard of Benson’s former home at 8650 E. Joshua Tree Lane, Scottsdale police and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
    In a separate case, authorities said that Steven Sheffield Scoutten, 53, is being charged in the 1986 stabbing death of Dwayne Nutt.
    Nutt’s body was found in a hotel room on Nov. 15 of that year at the Hospitality Inn, 409 N. Scottsdale Road. The investigation revealed that Scoutten was the primary suspect but charges were never filed.
    Investigators say that recent DNA evidence and fresh witness interviews were keys in these decades-old cases.

    The Holman case has grabbed headlines over the years because the investigation was closed and reopened a number of times in its 30-year history. Investigators reinterviewed people close to the case who came forward with new information, and crews twice excavated the site.
    “We never stopped investigating the case,” said retired Scottsdale Sgt. Frank Hylton, who investigated Holman’s death from 1981 to 1984 and is currently a part-time investigator with the cold-case unit. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this. It was a team effort. We just kept digging up old leads and contacted people who were questioned back then who brought forward new information.”
    Holman was initially listed as a runaway and later a missing person, but a tip led police to the backyard of Benson’s former residence, where partial skeletal remains were unearthed in an underground fort in 1992. A second, weeklong excavation in May turned up no new evidence, however.
    Those skeletal remains — believed to carry Holman’s maternal lineage due to DNA testing in 1993 — were exhumed from Scottsdale’s Green Acres Mortuary in January and re-examined by a forensic anthropologist with the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office. The remains were also sent to the Department of Public Safety crime lab for new DNA forensic examination. The results of the DNA tests confirmed that the bones were those of Holman, police said. Benson was indicted Thursday by a county grand jury on a charge of second-degree murder.
    Holman’s parents are now deceased. Attempts to reach Benson’s brother were unsuccessful.

    The motive for Holman’s death stemmed from an incident about three weeks before he disappeared, Hylton said.
    According to new witness interviews, Holman and one of his friends reportedly “jumped” Benson near Agua Linda Park, 8800 E. McDonald Drive in Scottsdale. The boys were intent on stealing Benson’s marijuana and money, Hylton said.
    “Those interviews brought everything together,” he said.
    Edward Alongi, one of Holman’s childhood friends, told the Tribune in May that Holman and one of his friends had robbed Benson of drugs and money one evening.
    “My brother and I were in the planning of it, but we didn’t go through with it,” Alongi said. He said that Benson was known in the neighborhood as a bully and had a reputation for being violent.
    “We could never figure out why Greg (Holman) would walk off alone with (Benson),” Alongi told the Tribune in May.
    New interviews and decadesold alliances that had deteriorated over time were key to solving the case, said Scottsdale police Lt. Craig Chrzanowski.
    “Being an officer for 32 years, and 29 of them in Arizona, it was a good feeling — a great feeling,” Chrzanowski said of the indictments. “I can’t wait to go to trial on this.”

    In 2007, the cold case involving the 1986 stabbing death of Dwayne Nutt, 31, was reopened by detectives.
    Bloody clothing was found at Moeur Park in Tempe and was believed to have been worn by Scoutten during the murder.
    That clothing was examined by the Scottsdale police crime lab.
    In June, DNA from blood on the clothing was matched to Nutt and linked to Scoutten.
    On Oct. 20, homicide investigators traveled to Tucson to locate and interview Scoutten, who admitted that he stabbed Nutt, police said. Scoutten was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder.
    Detective Hugh Lockerby said the families of both victims have been contacted.
    “They were overwhelmed that we were able to move forward with these cases, and that we didn’t forget about them,” he said.

    Jon Benson

    Greg Holman

    Steve Scoutten

    Lt. Craig Chrzanowski of the Scottsdale Police Department speaks to the media about a cold case, while Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas listens Monday.
    Last edited by bettybrown1623; 11-14-2008 at 03:20 PM.

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